A hollow man, Oliver, a psychoanalyst at a Vermont Foundation, a bored husband and detached father, now rancorously critical of his work, finds that ""meaning had fled"" his life. Refusing to submit to further analysis to isolate the causes of his destructive hostility, he resigns, leaves his wife and children, and goes to Beverly Hills where he achieves prominence, pursues material success (fat fees), and indulges his many intense and indiscriminate sexual attachments. It is Phyllis, seven years later, shrewd and sensuos, who reflects his own self-image and deflects him from his narcissistic course. He returns to his family and to his research. While he cannot save his wife (she becomes an alcoholic), he does establish responsible relationships:- with his children, and with Inga, the young widow, whom he marries. At fifty, a diagnosis of cancer brings him to the end of his search in the knowledge that he has achieved something of value and that the physician has healed himself..... Somehow, psychoanalysis in fiction makes a strong case for professional secrecy; this odyssey of one man's ego is dull; and his latterday reconciliation of his life with death, and with himself, seems spurious- particularly in view of the prurient, incidents which have preceded it. Are they really in the interests of a good, honest, personal devaluation?